When accused of a crime, many clients want to know what strategies are available to them for defending their case. Because criminal courts require that a judge or jury determine guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, it is up to the defense attorney to use a strategy that creates such doubt in a client’s criminal case.
While there are many strategies defense attorneys use to help clients receive an acquittal, the four most commonly discussed include innocence, self-defense, insanity, and constitutional violations.
When accused of a crime you didn’t commit, pleading innocence may be the right strategy. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as getting on the stand and telling the judge or jury you didn’t commit the crime.
Your attorney will need to build a case around your innocence to show you didn’t commit the crime. This strategy often involves the use of witnesses, experts, and even evidence to support your claim. In some cases having a strong alibi witness can be enough. In other cases, the defense will provide viable evidence that another party could have committed the crime.
The self-defense strategy can be used when a defendant is accused of assault, battery, or even murder. Proving a defendant harmed or killed the victim to protect themselves from threats of violent acts can be challenging.
The prosecuting attorney must show the defendant had no reason to use such drastic measures. This requires the defense to prove the opposite, that there was an incredible risk of danger to the defendant and that such drastic actions were necessary.
This strategy also applies when a defendant acts on the behalf of others. For instance, if a defendant harms or kills someone in defense of violence against loved ones or even strangers, self-defense can still apply.
Insanity defenses are possibly one of the most challenging strategies. The issue with proving insanity is that the burden of proof falls on the defense. This means instead of raising doubt in the prosecution’s argument the defense must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is suffering or suffered at the time a crime was committed of mental illness or a defect that caused them to commit the act.
In order to claim insanity, the defense must show that the defendant could not determine right from wrong at the time of the crime. This is a very risky strategy wherein the defendant is essentially admitting guilt but requesting that their guilt should be excused due to insanity.
Everyone is entitled to specific protections under the U.S. Constitution. Violations of the Constitution are often put under scrutiny during criminal trials. For instance, how a defendant was treated, the circumstances of his or her arrest, and even how the evidence was collected to use against a defendant can be questioned under Constitutional rights.
When the defense can argue that a Constitutional violation has occurred, the prosecution may be forced to dismiss the charges or offer a plea bargain for a much less severe charge.
Some common violations include not being read Miranda rights, illegal searches, coerced confessions, and breaking the chain of custody on evidence collected.
You should never guess which strategy will work best if you have been accused of a crime. To speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney with years of experience handling these types of cases, contact our office today.